Bankers Shut Down Bulgaria’s Bitcoin Exchanges Last Week

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Bulgaria: ​Banks cracked down on Bitcoin exchanges last week by closing down the exchanges’ commercial-bank accounts and blocking them from obtaining national currencies.  The exchanges pointed to bankers, not the government, as the source of the problem, although it is likely that the government would have prevented the banks from doing that to any other class of customers. According to independent news sources, the exchanges began restoring ​operations several days later.  -GEG​

Bulgarians have lost all of their bitcoin exchanges overnight thanks to a sudden banking crackdown. In a well-orchestrated operation, Bulgaria’s major banks swung into action and blocked the accounts of multiple cryptocurrency exchanges.

Bulgarian Bankers Battle with Bitcoin

Cryptocurrency exchanges, like their crypto-loving customers, have an achilles heel: a reliance on legacy banking. Moving bitcoin around is easy. Moving fiat currency in and out of an exchange is often much harder – especially when you’ve just had your banking facilities withdrawn. On December 7, the blanket ban was reported on a Bulgarian bitcoin forum, whose moderator wrote:

We expected this to happen, but not so fast. It seems that the panic of the financial system is quite large.

Bulgaria, like its neighboring Balkan states, is a tech-savvy country that has embraced bitcoin and the financial freedom it brings. Its legacy banking system seems to have acted against the exchanges out of resentment and self-interest rather than due to orders issued at state level. In the same forum thread, the CEO of one of the affected changes replied:

UBB [bank] informed us a few days ago that they were closing down our accounts for trading in cryptocurrencies. After a conversation with one of the bank’s bosses, I realized it was the decision of the bank’s owner, it was not for regulation.

As it stands, all of the country’s exchanges are either offline or severely restricted in terms of the service they can offer, with many displaying notices explaining the situation they find themselves in. Affected exchanges include Cix.bg, Crypto.bg, and Cryptobank.bg. The latter is still trading, but can only accept funds via ewallet.

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Karl-Heinz

The Need To Know e-mail asked how Cryptocurrencies could even be seized: The achilles-heel is exactly the exchanges. The point where cryptocurrencies are exchanged for Dollar or Euro or whatever bank-created currency. Those exchanges are of course not anonymous, but are regulated and clearly identified. If someone would f.e. exchange Bitcoin for Dollar, those Dollars would of course land on a bank account and be widely visible for regulators and bankers. Therefore it is advised to not have one´s cryptocurrencies laying around on the exchanges. The exchanges are ususally willing to report customers and are subject to authorities. As long… Read more »